Stephen Preaches to the Council
Verse 1 – Then the high priest said, “Are these things so?”
Are these things true that you, Stephen, have spoken blasphemous words against Moses and the law?
Verse 2 – And he said, “Men and brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,
Verse 3 – “and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’
Verse 4 – “Then he came out of a land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell.
Verse 5 – “And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him.
Though Abraham had no children at that time, God promised to give his descendants land as a possession.
Verse 6 – “But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would sojourn in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years.
Verse 7 – ‘And the nation to whom they will be in bondage I will judge, said God, ‘And after that they shall come out and serve Me in this place.’
Verse 8 – “Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision, and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.
Verse 9 – “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him,
Stephen is summarizing Israel’s history. God had made a covenant with Abraham and had always kept His promises. However, time and again, Israel broke their part of the covenant.
Verse 10 – “And delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of Israel’s history, just as this council did. We as Christians, need to understand who the Jewish people are. They were and are God’s chosen people. They, even after all they went through, down through the ages, are the ones that God chose to bring the Gospel into the world. Don’t ever despise something that God has ordained.
Verse 11 – “Now a famine and great trouble came over the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance.
Verse 12 – “But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.
Verse 13 – “And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh.
Verse 14 – “Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people.
Verse 15 – “So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers.
Verse 16 – “And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.
verse 17 – “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt
Verse 18 – “till another king arose who did not know Joseph.
After Israel had spent four-hundred years in slavery to the Egyptians, God was faithful to His promise by raising up Moses.
God always has a plan for each believer’s life. He is the One that is in control of that plan. It many not look like things are going to work out, but they will. Our God is faithful to His Word. God will use His children just like He did with Joseph, Moses, and Stephen.
Verse 19 – “This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies so that they might not live.
Verse 20 – “At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God’ and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months.
At that time, the Israelites were having children at a record pace. Pharaoh was afraid the Egyptians would soon be outnumbered and would be overrun with the Jews, so he sent out a decree to have all the male babies born, killed. Moses was born at this time, and hid in his house with his mother and father for only three months. Soon he could no longer be hidden from Pharaoh’s eyes and ears.
Verse 21 – “But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son.
Verse 22 – “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.
Verse 23 – “But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.
Moses life is divided into three periods of 40 years each. Forty years in Egypt, forty in Midian, and forty in the wilderness.
verse 24 – “And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian.
Verse 25 – “For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.
Moses in his heart, knew that God was going to use him as Israel’s deliverer, but the Israelite’s saw Moses actions as defiance against the Egyptians and would bring more hardship down on them.
Verse 26 – “And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one anther?’
Verse 27 – “But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?
Verse 28 – ‘Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?
Verse 29 – “Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a sojourner in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.
While in the land of Midian, Moses married Zipporah, and had two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.
Verse 30 – “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai.
Verse 31 – “When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him,
Verse 32 – “saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look.
Verse 33 – ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.
Verse 34 – “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ‘
Verse 35 – “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be ruler and a deliver by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
Verse 36 – “He brought then out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
Verse 37 – “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’
Verse 38 – “This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us (the living oracles, the Ten Commandments),
Verse 39 – “whom your fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt,
Sometimes new believers will think about what they had to give up to follow Christ instead of what they are gaining. And if they dwell on the past sin, and glamorize it long enough, they will turn back. Please, don’t ever go back to what God has delivered you from. The pleasure of sin only lasts for a moment. It will be much harder the second time to break free. Why would anyone give up an eternity with Christ for a moment of sin?
Verse 40 – “saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’
Verse 41 – “And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
Verse 42 – “Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of Prophets; ‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
They started worshiping the deities associated with the sun, moon, stars, and planets.
Verse 43 – Yes, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, images which you made to worship; and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’
Moloch was the god associated with child sacrifice. This act is still done today, only it’s called abortion, the god of, “Inconvenience.”
Verse 44 – “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern he had seen,
Moses built this tabernacle according to the things God had shown him on Mount Sinai. This tabernacle, according to Hebrews 8:5, was a shadow of the heavenly things…
Verse 45 – “which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David,
Verse 46 – “who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob.
Verse 47 – “But solomon built Him a house.
Verse 48 – “However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:
Verse 49 – ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the LORD, or what is the place of My rest?
Verse 50 – Has My hand not made all these things?’ (Psalm 102:25)
Verse 51 – “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit as your fathers did, so do you.
Stiff-necked and uncircumcised heart and ears, are unbelief and disobedience.
Verse 52 – “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become betrayers and murderers,
Verse 53 – “who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”
Verse 54 – When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.
When people hear the “Truth,” the true Gospel, they have two choices to make. They can either submit to God and repent, or they will get angry and strike out at the person giving the message. These religious leaders chose to get angry and wanted to kill Stephen.
Verse 55 – But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
Verse 56 – and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
Jesus was standing. He was about to receive Stephen, for He knew what these men were about to do. When Jesus stood, He was honoring Stephen, and he would be comforted in his death. The Sanhedrin got angry because they didn’t believe that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Verse 57 – The they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;
Verse 58 – and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
Stephen was killed by an angry mob. This was done illegally by an enraged mob who did not have permission to do so by the Roman government. This is the same Saul, whose name was later changed to Paul and wrote many of the letters in the New Testament. Paul is a powerful example of how no one is too far gone for God to reach and change.
Verse 59 – And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Verse 60 – Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Such a forgiving response comes only from the Holy Spirit. This is a non-vindictive spirit of one who understands that his own sins have been forgiven by grace. Fell asleep, is a common expression for death in the Bible.